Bill Lander was tireless in commanding his Wing; he set a personal example to his officers and men. His bravery inspired everyone under his command and drove the seemingly “indomitable” spirit that existed amongst the RAF Regiment force. On the morning of 24th March, the Wing Commander led the daily dawn sweep to clear the Meiktila airfield. The ensuing contact with the Japanese resulted in himself and his runner, LAC “Jock” Dakers, being killed by enemy snipers. He had carried the attack so far into the Japanese defended area that it was several days before the bodies could be recovered for burial. If only he had heeded the advice of his last spoken words, recounted by LAC Ron Finch who was lying alongside him:
Watch it; the bastards are in the corner!
Perhaps the RAF Regiment action at Meiktila was best summed up by the CO of 17 Spitfire Squadron RAF, Squadron Leader “Ginger” Lacey (better known as the Battle of Britain Ace with 28 kills to his name – Sergeant “Ginger” Lacey).
The RAF Regiment won bloody renown in the fierce fighting for the repossession of the landing ground every humid morning. It is a shame that so many went unrewarded, like Lander, a first-class Wing Commander.Sqn Ldr “Ginger” Lacey
Both Wing Commander Lander and LAC Dakers graves are in the CWGC at Htaukkyan near Rangoon.